The Kansas City Public Library is a Funding Information Network partner of the Foundation Center, a grants-research organization based in New York. Contact us for assistance using the Foundation Directory and our other business and nonprofit resources.
Hadiza Sa-Aadu is the Library’s Small Business Engagement Specialist. She holds a BA in Economics and French from Emory University and an MBA with a specialization in Data Analytics from the University of Iowa. Her career has spanned marketing, sales and data analytics in both the public and private sectors. She can help you mine and analyze data as you conduct industry research and help you develop a marketing plan. Hadiza is passionate about leveraging data to inspire stakeholders to take action, creative place-making (ask her about this if you’re curious!), mission driven organizations including social enterprises and human centered design.
Nonprofit Startup Tool Assessment from GrantSpace
The Nonprofit Startup Tool Assessment from GrantSpace is for people who are either considering or are already in the early stages of starting a nonprofit. Questions will assess background knowledge, capital, and work experience that are relevant to starting a nonprofit.
Once the assessment is complete, the results will provide customized resources to guide your team on identifying funding, navigating the legal process, developing a business plan, and launching programs.
You should take this diagnostic if:
- You are thinking about starting or have recently started a nonprofit
- You have not previously navigated the processes of incorporation and applying for 501(c)(3) status
- You are looking for funding to support a community project
- You are hoping to gain employment by founding a nonprofit organization
- You got your 501(c)(3) and need help to implement your program ideas and secure funding
You can also check out Harbor Compliance’s information on the process.
Legal Aspects of Nonprofits
In order to conduct grant research, let’s review what a foundation is.
A foundation is a nonprofit corporation or a charitable trust whose mission is to make available grants to organizations or individuals for cultural, educational, religious, scientific, or other charitable purposes.
The successful grant seeker will have completed exhaustive research in finding the right foundation. This process might require extensive review of both print and online resources.
There are essentially three approaches to grant research. Both print and electronic resources may be used:
- Subject Approach: Perhaps the most often-used approach as foundations will express an interest in funding subject-specific programs. Look for those foundations that are most likely to fund your proposal.
- Geographic Approach: Since foundations will often limit where they will fund projects to their region or location, you may want to include this approach as part of your overall searching strategy.
- Types of Support Approach: This type of approach is usually used in conjunction with Subject or Geographic research and should not be confused with the Subject Approach. “Subject Approaches” will list programs that foundations want to fund, whereas “Types of Support” will offer what kinds of assistance the foundations will fund. For example, requests for funding for building/renovation, equipment, seed-money, or technical assistance would fall into the category of “Types of Support.”
There are basically four considerations in conducting grant research you will need to research as much as you can with regard to:
- Grantmakers: You first want to check to see what foundations offer the kind of assistance you’ll need. This can be achieved by using the three approaches listed above.
- Companies: You can glean information about specific companies to determine whether or not they would be a good match for your proposal.
- Grants: Found out what kinds of grants have been awarded and who received them.
- 990s: A “990” is a document submitted by the grant-maker to the IRS each year. This document contains detailed information about the grant, including how much was awarded. It provides valuable information for the grant-seeker as it breaks down the grant into its specific, component parts.
Before contacting prospective grantmakers, you must first develop the master proposal that completely but succinctly presents your plan. According to the Foundation Center, to achieve this you must:
- Set your funding priorities
- Draft the master proposal
- Package the proposal
- Research potential funders
- Contact and cultivate potential funders
- Respond to the result
Set Up Your Funding Priorities
- Compose your mission statement—A written summary of your agency’s vision
- Acquire nonprofit status—Don’t forget to obtain your 501(c)(3) status from the IRS!
- Set funding priorities—Start with a planning session.
Draft Your Master Proposal
A rough draft will clarify your request. Bring together detailed information on your project and select your proposal writer. You will need to include the executive summary, statement of need, project description, budget, and organizational information.
Package the Proposal
Once the master proposal is written, you will need to craft it to the specific funder’s priorities. You will also need to provide a cover letter and an appendix, if necessary.
Research Potential Funders
At this point you will need to identify sources most likely to fund your proposal. See “Researching Grants” for more information.
Contact & Cultivate Potential Funders
Speaking with a potential funder at the outset about your organization and proposal helps to identify interested funders and saves time.
Respond to the Result
Following up is an important component in the grant writing process. Even if you are initially rejected, maintaining a relationship with the funder could help you improve your proposal to send to other funders, as well as open up dialog for future proposals.